In the Market Guide for Unified Communications Monitoring (UCM) published by Gartner on October 18, 2017, analysts Vivek Bhalla and Rafael Benitez give their take on UCM needs, pitfalls, and planning assumptions; provide guidance on how to invest in a UCM solution, and list ThousandEyes as a representative vendor. If you are feeling the need for better UC visibility, read on to get the skinny.
UC Pain Has Shifted to Post-Deployment NetOps
There was a time when just getting UC deployed was the primary challenge. No longer. According to the report, “Previously, based on Gartner inquiries and other end-user interactions, inadequate predeployment preparation and planning of VoIP and UC technologies were the most common causes of quality of experience issues during UC project rollouts. However, initial rollout issues have been superseded in many enterprise environments by a lack of ongoing monitoring solutions.”
Underlining this point, the authors find that ‘as enterprises shift the management of UCC services to network teams, or dedicated application or collaboration teams, the focus of and demand for VoIP/UCM and management needs is also being altered…, Network teams are unprepared for the varied issues that the business will demand they manage, troubleshoot and diagnose with regard to emerging UC services.”
Where does that complexity come from? Well, stating the obvious, voice and video are the most network-sensitive applications. On a more technical level, SIP control plane and RTP data plane communications are distinct and follow different network paths. Another aspect of complexity observed in the report is heterogeneity:
“UCM vendors are increasingly being challenged by end users to demonstrate support of new UC platforms that organizations are gravitating toward while also maintaining comparable visibility of legacy UC platforms that they are moving away from. This is due to such migrations taking place in a parallel fashion rather than a "cold turkey" approach. Gartner has also observed some organizations adopting a multivendor UCC stack strategy, employing multiple UC platforms for different, specific use cases.”
Remember that by “UC Systems,” we’re not just referring to on-premises software. Many newer solutions that your organization may migrate to are cloud-based UCaaS services. That means that aside from your garden variety network disruptions, you also have to contend with the Internet. Hello, complexity!
You Should Plan to Have UCM
If the most significant pain point for UC deployments is in the network operations phase, the upshot is that covering that pain point is a growing priority within your network performance management and diagnostics (NPMD) technology stack. The authors state that “by mid-2019, end-user VoIP and UCM will be prerequisites for 60% of mainstream network performance monitoring and diagnostics tool procurement, up from 35% in 2017.”
Where’s the Sweet Spot for Investing in UC Monitoring?
If you’re convinced that you need UCM, where should you invest, given a large and somewhat confusing market of solutions? The guide offers some helpful advice.
First, Bhalla/Benitez correlate the necessity of each category to your organization’s complexity. For example, if your network and UC deployment are simple, then health monitoring is essential while DEM is desirable but not a necessity, and so forth. The authors warn readers against assuming that they need the most expensive class of UCM.
“To optimize IT operations, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders tasked with planning, selecting and deploying unified communications and collaboration infrastructure should, avoid the trap of automatically buying expensive, packet-based UCM tools by scrutinizing requirements against tooling capabilities. The most advanced tools may provide the deepest insight, but will be overkill for many organizations' requirements.”
“Improve UC problem diagnosis by singling out tools that help identify the specific degrading effects that latency, jitter and packet loss have on UC applications and the user experience.”
From an economics point of view, you should look at subscription-based investments to avoid long-term lock-in, since they believe that the UCM market has maturing to do.
Finally, you should pay close attention to the UCM solution’s ability to offer intuitive visualization, because in their view, “Despite UC's rigorous end-to-end performance requirements, UCM tool maturity lags behind mainstream NPMD and APM tools in terms of visualization, particularly contextual drill-down and persona-driven presentation of data.”
ThousandEyes — A Representative Vendor
We’re proud to be listed as a representative vendor in the report. Of course, we’re biased, but taking into consideration the report’s observations and recommendations, we believe that we’re a particularly smart investment. Why?
- We’re at the sweet spot, with both DEM and health monitoring. ThousandEyes VoIP monitoring includes MOS scoring, gives you key network metrics like loss, latency and jitter, and allows you to find the precise network root causes, down to device-layer issues.
- Coverage of on-premises UC and UCaaS deployments. ThousandEyes visibility doesn’t end at your corporate network borders like most other solutions. Instead, network path visualization and root cause identification extend across the Internet to your UCaaS provider, including BGP routing analysis. Your insight can even leverage collective intelligence.
- Visibility from inside and outside your corporate network. ThousandEyes offers both enterprise, cloud-based and even endpoint agents. You’ll see UC performance from every user in any location.
- Intuitive visualization. ThousandEyes was built from the ground up on the belief that visualization is key — that’s why you can look at MOS score impacts, see a global map of where issues are occurring, click into an overview of tell-tale network metrics, drill down to end-to-end Layer 3 path visualization and see where the problems are occurring, then find out if it’s an ISP, broad Internet routing, or internal network device health issue.
- Not just for VoIP. ThousandEyes won’t trap you in a VoIP-only silo. You can use ThousandEyes’ network intelligence to understand the impact of network dependencies on the performance of all your internal and external applications, SaaS and other service providers.
- Subscription-based, so you benefit from our rapid addition of new capabilities without long-term lock-in.
Pretty nifty stuff. If you’d like to learn more about our VoIP monitoring, check out our VoIP solution page.
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